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As Christmas draws ever closer around the world, we take a break from our usual student advice articles and academic guides to bring you a quickfire look at the various festive traditions across the world. We have all been guilty at times of forgetting that Christmas is after all a religious festival and this article looks at how different cultures and nationalities celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Christmas Around The World

We cannot of course fit in every single Christmas tradition into this article, but the team here at Almero Student Mansions have picked their favourite and most interesting. So, grab a brew, find a comfy chair and enjoy this festive feature…

Giant Lantern Festival – Philippines 

Referred to affectionately as Ligligan Parul Sampernandu in its native Philippines, youre unlikely to see more spectacular Christmas celebrations anywhere in the world than the Giant Lantern Festival.

Held the Saturday before Christmas Eve in the city of San Fernando, this area is known to be the capital of Christmas in this part of the world and you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work out the theme of the party. Villages or barangays from across the nation compete to create the most exciting lanterns and they are illuminated by electric bulbs these days; the results are simply breath taking.

St Nicholas Day – Germany

Despite the name, this is not to be confused with Father Christmas who is actually referred to as Weihnachtsmann in Germany, St Nicholas is something quite different. St Nicholas, or Nikolaus, travels by donkey instead of reindeer and sets off as early as December 6th, as folklore would have it.

In a similar fashion to his counterpart though, he rewards well behaved children with coins, sweets and oranges and is particular hit in the region of Bavaria. Beware though, for less well-behaved children it is worth being wary of Knecht Ruprecht, a devil like character dressed in dark clothes who may well whip any youngsters not toeing the line. Scary stuff!

Caga Tió – Catalonia

When looking at Christmas traditions around the world, Caga Tió is definitely one of the weirder and more wonderful. Translated as “defecating log”, this involves feeding various sweets and gifts into a sinister looking, grinning creature placed in the living room. The log must be fed daily and on Christmas Eve, it’s beaten so it excretes its various goodies. Quite odd, but the latter part sounds like great fun we must say.

A similar character also turns up in a few Catalonian nativity scenes, continuing the theme of festive defecation!

Roller Parties – Venezuela

In the capital of Venezuela, Caracas, the locals have a great way of travelling to church for their Christmas celebrations. Revellers head to worship quite early on Christmas Day and in a bit to beat the traffic, or even each other to get a great seat for the festivities – they do so on roller skates. So popular has this custom become, that some roads are even closed in a bid to make it a bit safer for the skaters.

Whale of a Time – Greenland

If you have grown up hating sprouts and having them forced on you via your Christmas Dinner, then spare a thought for those in Greenland. At Christmas, these guys indulge in one of the nation’s most popular delicacies, Mattak. This is raw whale skin with blubber.

They also mark the festive period by eating Kiviak which is a small bird wrapped in seal skin, buried for several months and eaten once it has decomposed. Nice, hey. Maybe sprouts aren’t that bad after all!

Spider Web Tree – Ukraine

The final Christmas custom in our list can be found in Ukraine, where the locals have a novel way of decorating their trees; with fake spider’s webs. This is said to bring families good luck at Christmas and emanates from an old Ukrainian wives’ tale about an poor old lady who couldn’t afford and Christmas decorations. She woke up on Christmas morning to find that a spider had duly decorated her tree with glistening web.

This is now done across the country at Christmas to mark this fantastic story.

Have a Merry Christmas

We hope you enjoyed reading this guide as much as we did writing it. We wish all of our current and prospective residents a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Be sure to check out more of our student news articles and you can also view our current selection of luxury student accommodation online!